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Daily Archives: March 7, 2019

Channel money for litigation to orphanages, Satguru Maharaji tells Atiku

Founder of One Love Family, Satguru Maharaj Ji, has counselled the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, to spend on orphanages instead of giving money to lawyers to contest the results of the February 23 presidential election.

Maharaj, who also predicted victory for the governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos and Oyo states, said the PDP wasted the country’s resources and did not deserve another chance at governance.

The religious leader spoke during an exclusive chat with our correspondent on Thursday.

While urging the Federal Government to provide adequate security at polling booths, he asked Nigerians to vote for leaders who would move their states forward.

He said, “There is no need for anybody going to court.

“The money Atiku has, he should take it to motherless babies’ homes and rehabilitation centres instead of giving it to lawyers.

“I want Nigerians to exercise their franchise on Saturday peacefully. They should be security conscious.

“In the past, Nigerians were deprived of their rights to elect their leaders. With the government in place now, I believe we have the chance to choose freely.

“This is our chance to vote out poverty, looting, terrorism and all kinds of unproductive attitude in our society.”

He said he believed that the Lagos APC governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, will win.

Maharaj Ji noted that the PDP did not have the goodwill to remove the ruling party in Lagos.

“I don’t know why we are mentioning the PDP. For 16 years, they held us to ransom.

“From what I see through the spirit of the ancestors, Sanwo-Olu will win. Even if you go to Oyo State, the APC candidate will win.

“This is because the country is fed up with double dealers; people who steal our economy and turn it upside down. They don’t care what you eat or drink. We don’t want them. We want the same law for everybody,” he added.

He condemned the practice of vote-buying, appealing to Nigerians to shun any politician who offers them money in exchange for their votes.

Court to determine housewife’s fate after setting journalist husband ablaze

Amina Dauda, a housewife accused of killing her husband, Mohammed Matazu, a former reporter with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Kaduna, by setting him ablaze, to know her fate on May 30.

Dauda, 28, was arraigned before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, on May 22, 2013, on three counts bordering on culpable homicide, punishable with death.

Justice Baba-Yusuf , fixed the date after adoption of written addresses by Mr Abubakar Musa, prosecuting counsel and defendant counsel, Mr Charles Yoila.

Musa had urged the court to go ahead and convict the defendant, adding that the five witnesses brought by the prosecution produced evidence that pointed at the defendant’s commission of the offence.

“The act of fighting which the defendant engaged in that led to the commission of the offence was unlawful” he said.

Responding, Yoila urged the court to discharge the defendant of the allegation against her.

NAN reports that the prosecutor alleged that Dauda, set sprayed Matazu with petrol in their residence at Gwarinpa, Abuja, on February 7, 2013.

NAN reports that on April 8, 2014 during trial, a prosecution witness, Usman Idoko,  the court that the late journalist, was taken to three hospitals before he died from injuries sustained from fire set to him by his wife.

Idoko said the deceased, also a legislative aide to Sen. Mohammed Ibrahim (PDP-Kaduna), was taken to the hospitals by neighbours who were at the crime scene.

Idoko said Matazu was also moved to the National Hospital Abuja, where he was referred to the ABU Teaching Hospital Zaria, Kaduna State.

“My lord, on Feb. 21, 2013, I received news that Matazu had passed on through a letter signed by Sen. Ibrahim. The senator also sent us the death certificate of the late Matazu,’’ he said.

After the death of the victim, Idoko said that the accused was arrested and kept at the State Criminal Investigation Department headquarters, Abuja, for further investigation, where he took her statement and read her rights.

After his testimony, the prosecution counsel, Mr Sunday Adewumi, prayed the court for an adjournment for other witnesses to appear in court.

He said the offence  violated the provisions of Section 221 of the Penal Code.

12,000 Indian farmers commit suicide

About 12,000 farmers in India’s southwestern state of Maharashtra committed suicide between 2015 and 2018, a 91-percent jump compared with 2011-2014.

The new figures were revealed in a report quoting a letter to the National Human Rights Commission by the Maharashtra government.

According to the report under the Right to Information on Thursday, the number of farmer’s suicide rose sharply to 11,995 from January 2015 till the end of 2018 while the same was 6,268 during 2011-2014.

The rural distress among farmers related to credit, cost and crop pattern along with issues of health, unemployment and climate has led to the rising number of suicides, said Kishore Tiwari, head of the farmers association from the state.

In June 2017, the state government announced a farm loan waiver and was working toward making the state drought free by 2019 through its water conservation program.

Maharashtra is the second most populous state and third largest by area in the country. According to the last available agriculture census of 2010-2011, there were 13.6 million farming families in the state.

Cardinal convicted of covering up sex abuse allegations

A high-ranking French Catholic cleric, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, was convicted on Thursday for failing to report allegations of sexual abuse in his diocese and said he would submit his resignation to Pope Francis.

Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon and the highest-profile cleric to be caught up in the child sex abuse scandal inside the French Catholic Church, was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence.

The court in Lyon ruled that between July 2014 and June 2015 Barbarin covered up allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts in the 1980s and early 1990s by a priest, who is due to go on trial later this year.

Barbarin was not present for the verdict but his lawyer, Jean-Felix Luciani, said he would appeal the ruling.

He denied concealing allegations that Father Bernard Preynat abused dozens of boys more than a decade before he arrived in the Lyon diocese in 2002.

Preynat has admitted sexual abuse, according to his lawyer.
Barbarin told a brief news conference he would travel to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis in the next few days and resign.

The victims and their families were in his prayers, he added.

There was no immediate word from the Vatican on whether Francis would accept the resignation, which could remove Barbarin from his post as archbishop but leave him with the rank of cardinal.

Prosecutors in Lyon had previously investigated Barbarin but dropped the probe in mid-2016 without a detailed explanation.

However, an association of alleged victims called Parole Liberee (Freed Word) used a provision of French law to compel the cardinal to stand trial.

“This will send a strong message to the Church and to the pope,” said abuse victim Francois Devaux, applauding the verdict.

Barbarin’s trial put Europe’s senior clergy in the spotlight at a time when the pope is grappling with criticism over the Church’s response to a sexual abuse crisis that has gravely damaged its standing around the globe.

Francis ended a conference on clergy abuse of children in February with a call for an “all-out battle” against a crime that should be “erased from the face of the earth.”

Victims said the pope had merely repeated old promises and offered few new concrete proposals.

Barbarin told the trial he only became aware of Preynat’s abuses in 2014 after a conversation with one victim.

Before that, he said, he had only heard rumours. He removed Preynat from his post a year later, when the allegations became public.

The scandal is the subject of Francois Ozon’s film “Grace A Dieu” (By The Grace of God) which won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

AU to establish African Central Bank by 2045

The plan to establish the African Central Bank (ACB) by the African Union will likely come to fruition by 2045.

Ms Naglaa Nozahie representing the Association of African Central Banks (AACB), said this while presenting the progress report on the convergence of criteria for the ACB to the African Union on Thursday.

The briefing was part of proceedings at the third session of the Specialised Technical Committee of the African Union (AU) on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration, holding in Yaounde, Cameroon.

The meeting, which was organised in collaboration with the African Capacity Building Foundation, had as its theme: “Public Policies for Productive Transformation in Africa’’.

Nozahie, who is also a Special Advisor to the Governor, Central Bank of Egypt, said the purpose of ACB was “to build a common monetary policy and single African currency as a way to accelerate economic integration on the continent’’.

She said the AACB held several meetings from 2002 to 2017 and came up with the proposed macroeconomic criteria that must be met by each member state before the African Central Bank could be established.

She said inflation must be three per cent or less by 2038, overall budget deficit must also be less than or equal to three per cent by 2033.

Similarly, she said the ratio of central bank financing to the government must be zero by 2038 and that each country must have foreign reserves to cover at least six months of importation by 2038.

“In addition, the ratio of public debt to GDP must be less than 65 per cent while the ratio of total tax revenue to GDP must be more than 20 per cent.

“The ratio of government capital investment to tax revenue must be greater than 30 per cent,’’ she said.

Nozahie said experts, who worked on the convergence criteria, also agreed that member countries must maintain the stability of the nominal exchange rate at plus or minus 10 per cent.

She further said that analysis of member countries’ performance showed that only 18 countries, out of 52, currently met all the primary criteria for macroeconomic convergence.

It would be recalled that the AU Assembly in January 2005, which held in Abuja, outlined decisions for the establishment of some African financial institutions to improve intra-African trade.

Part of the decisions was that the African Central Bank should be located in Nigeria, the African Investment Bank in Libya, and the African Monetary Fund in Cameroon.

When it is fully implemented, the ACB will be the sole issuer of the African Single Currency and would become the banker of the African Government and Africa’s private and public banking institutions.

The ACB will regulate and supervise the African banking industry and will set the official interest and exchange rates, in conjunction with the African Government’s administration.

Why we sleep: Scientists

Why do humans sleep? A new study by scientists at the Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, has unearthed a key factor that may lie at the center of sleep’s indispensability: its restorative effect on individual brain cells.

The team, which Prof. Lior Appelbaum led, reports its new findings in a study paper that appears in the journal Nature Communications.

In this study, the investigators turned to zebrafish, which scientists often use in research because they are surprisingly similar to humans. In fact, approximately 70 percent of human genes also occur in this freshwater species.

Using 3D time-lapse imaging, the scientists looked at the effects of sleep on a microscale and observed how it affected single neurons, or brain cells.

The high-resolution technology allowed Prof. Applebaum and team to follow the movement of DNA and proteins within brain cells.

They found that during sleep, individual neurons were able to perform maintenance work on the nucleus, the central element of each cell, which encloses most of that cell’s genetic material.

“Despite the risk of reduced awareness to the environment, animals — ranging from jellyfish to zebrafish to humans — have to sleep to allow their neurons to perform efficient DNA maintenance, and this is possibly the reason why sleep has evolved and is so conserved in the animal kingdom.”—-Prof. Lior Applebaum

When the nucleus begins to deteriorate, the DNA information it contains also becomes damaged, and this can lead to aging, disease, and poor overall functioning in an organ or tissue.

During sleep, the researchers explain, the neurons have an opportunity to recover from the stress they accumulated during the day and “fix” any damage they may have sustained.

The scientists note that during wakefulness, levels of chromosome dynamics are lower than during sleep, meaning that brain cells are unable to perform proper DNA maintenance. Prof. Applebaum likens this situation to having “potholes in the road.”

“Roads accumulate wear and tear, especially during daytime rush hours, and it is most convenient and efficient to fix them at night, when there is light traffic,” he explains.

Since this process is so vital to ensuring that the brain stays healthy, this can explain why animals — humans included — are willing to invest so much time in sleep, despite the risks it may expose them to in nature.

“We’ve found a causal link between sleep, chromosome dynamics, neuronal activity, and DNA damage and repair with direct physiological relevance to the entire organism,” explains Prof. Appelbaum.

“Sleep,” he adds, “gives an opportunity to reduce DNA damage accumulated in the brain during wakefulness.”

*First published by Medical News Today.

Taxify changes name, rebrands

The commercial ride-hailing service company, Taxify has changed its name.

It is now known as Bolt.

The change of name was announced by the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Markus Villig, in a statement issued on Thursday.

Consequently, its apps and listings in app stores have been updated.

Villig said the company would be rolled out gradually, explaning that the app would update automatically.

Said Villig:  “Since our launch five years ago, Taxify has grown to be more than a taxi app. Now millions of people over the world are using us to move around.

“Be it in a car, on a motor or riding an electric scooter. It’s time for our name to reflect our mission of building the best way to move in cities.

“We are changing our name and logo, but the app with great prices and fast arrival times will stay just as good as ever.”

Nigeria remains Africa’s biggest economy — at CBN rate

Nigeria has maintained its top spot as Africa’s biggest economy, ahead of South Africa and Egypt — but this is only when its gross domestic product (GDP) is calculated at N305/$1.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Nigeria’s GDP stands at $397.47 billion at the end of 2018, while South Africa could only muster $376.68 billion as Egypt was estimated to weigh only $249 billion.

However, Renaissance Capital, a leading emerging and frontier markets investment bank, says South Africa is actually Africa’s biggest economy — if Nigeria’s exchange rate realities are factored into the calculation of the nation’s GDP.

According to RenCap, GDP calculations using the purchasing power parity (PPP) of N362 per dollar brings Nigeria’s GDP to $357 billion — effectively shaving about $40 billion off the country’s GDP.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, have insisted on the current exchange rate regime as the best option for Nigeria at this time when oil prices are below $100.

SOUTH AFRICA AS AFRICA’S BIGGEST ECONOMY?

Charlie Robertson, the global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, made this known on Tuesday while explaining a slowdown in South Africa’s economy in 2018.

“South Africa GDP slowed from 1.4% to 0.8%, but that was still big enough to make it Africa’s biggest economy in 2018 at market exchange rates,” he said.

“We prefer market exchange rates because PPP dollars (which put Nigeria top) don’t buy you a Toyota. Or an oil refinery for that matter.”

Charlie Robertson@RencapMan

South Africa GDP slowed from 1.4% to 0.8%, but that was still big enough to make it Africa’s biggest economy in 2018 at market exchange rates. We prefer market exchange rates because PPP dollars (which put Nigeria top) don’t buy you a Toyota. Or an oil refinery for that matter

95 people are talking about this

RenCap, one of the leading frontier market analyst in the world, forecast Nigeria the biggest economy in Africa in 2017, with a GDP of $395 billion at CBN rate of N304 per dollar, and $327 billion at the market rate of N367 to the greenback.

Charlie Robertson@RencapMan

How do Africa’s economies rank right now? We don’t really know but there is a good argument that SA is first, Kenya again beats Ethiopia

82 people are talking about this

Charlie Robertson@RencapMan

Africa’s economies ranked by size. Nigeria 1st, Egypt 2nd and SA in 3rd place. Size relative to India/California helps explain news coverage

102 people are talking about this

In a note to investors, RenCap said early March that for Nigeria’s GDP to grow faster than its population, oil prices will have to double or the country will have to diversify the economy and pursue industrialisation.

“To diversify the economy, Nigeria must accelerate the rise of adult literacy, aiming for at least 80% as soon as possible,” RenCap said.

“To ensure the north is not left behind, Nigeria will need to enact an adult education campaign, similar in scale and impact to that pursued by South Korea in the 1950s.”

The research and insight firm added that 100 percent adult literacy also will not fix the problem if the country does not fix electricity.

“Even 100% adult literacy will not allow an escape from poverty if there is no reliable supply of electricity to power a factory or office computer,” it said.

INEC: No certificate of return for any candidate declared winner under duress

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will not issue certificates of return to any candidate declared winner of an election under duress.

Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, made this known during a meeting with the inter-agency consultative committee on election security held in Abuja on Thursday.

There was widespread intimidation and harassment of the commission’s staff during the last presidential and national assembly elections.

In Imo, for instance, Francis Ibeawuchi, INEC returning officer for the Imo west senatorial election, said he was “forced”to announce Rochas Okorocha, Imo state governor, as winner of the poll.

Yakubu said the commission will not tolerate the intimidation of its staff during Saturday’s elections.

“I am confident that working together with the security agencies, we will consolidate on the largely peaceful conduct of the presidential and national assembly elections while also taking decisive steps to deal with the minority of violators intent on disrupting the conduct of peaceful elections,” he said.

“However, the commission will not tolerate the act of holding our officials hostage and forcing them to declare winners under duress. Where such occurs, the commission will not reward bad behaviour by issuing them certificates of return.”

‘MEASURES IN PLACE TO ENSURE POLLS OPEN AT 8AM’

The INEC chairman added that the commission had put necessary measures in place to ensure voting starts at the scheduled time of 8am.

He said materials for the election have been delivered to all states and the FCT and movement to the local government areas to be completed before Friday.

“By tomorrow, all materials and relevant personnel will arrive at the Registration Area Centres (RACs),” he said, adding: “With this arrangement, we are confident that all polling units will open at 8am nationwide.”

The governorship election will hold in 29 states while 991 members of houses of assembly in all the states will be elected alongside six local government chairmen and 62 councillors in the FCT.

‘Oil marketers cheat Nigerians of N198,500 per truck sold’

Mr Mohammed  Sidi, Director, Weights and Measures Department, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, says that oil dealers have been cheating Nigerians of N198,500 per truck sold.

Sidi said this in Abuja on Wednesday during a surveillance activity of the department to some fuel stations.

He said that the action was to ensure that all commercial transactions involving the use of weights and measures were accurate, fair and legal.

“Every weighing equipment in all sectors of the economy, whether oil and gas or non- oil and gas must be up to the required standard, ” Sidi said.

At Forte Oil Station, Maitama, opposite Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, the team found that customers lost 0.5 litres of fuel in every 20 litres they bought.

The team sealed three of the dispensing pumps and collected their certificate of clarification.

“This is because the officials of Weights and Measures discovered that for every 20 litres of fuel dispensed to customers of the filling station, not less than 0.5 litres was found to be a shortage to customers.

“We have 33 litres in a truck and when for every 20 litres, it is short with 0.5  litres which means that in a truck they will be making a profit of N198,500 per truck,” Sidi said.

The team also visited Forte Oil station at Ibrahim Babangida Boulevard, opposite National Universities Commission and found that customers were cheated by the same quantity of fuel.

The team sealed three dispensing pumps for oil and one for diesel.

At Dan Oil on Airport Road, the team found that customers lost 0.6 litres for every 20 litres bought and sealed three petrol  pumps and one diesel pump.

At the filling station, the attendants quickly adjusted  some pumps immediately they sighted the officials.

The managers at all the stations refused to comment.

The team also visited Mabushi District cement depot and certified bags of cement found in the place as having the right quantity.

The bags of cement checked were Bua, Dangote and Sokoto Cement products.

The Chairman of the depot, Mr Maxwell Nnamani, said that the depot always maintained standards and urged other dealers to do same.

Nnamani said that although the issue of re-bagging had been a problem in the industry, it was being addressed.

The team also visited the 7UP Company at Idu Industrial Area to measure different products.

At ShopRite mall at the Jabi Lake, the team expressed satisfaction after measuring different products.

“We are happy because there is a lot of improvement from the non-oil sectors compared to what we witnessed before,’ Sidi said.

He appealed to members of the public to report any suspected discrepancies by products’ dealers to the department to enable it to do its job better.

R. Kelly’s girlfriends defend superstar, deny brainwashing

Two women living with R. Kelly are defending the R&B superstar charged with sexual abuse, saying in an interview aired Thursday that their relationships with him are consensual.

Azriel Clary, 21, and Joycelyn Savage, 23, told US network CBS that they “absolutely” are in love with Kelly, brushing off allegations that the 52-year-old artist brainwashes women he keeps in homes that operate as de facto sex cults.

We live with him, and we’re in a relationship with him,” Clary said of Kelly, who returned to jail Wednesday for failing to pay child support.

“A very strong relationship as well,” added Savage.

Questioned on the nature of their sex lives with Kelly, Clary said, “I would never share with no one what I do in or outside of the bedroom.”

“There are people all over the world who have multiple girlfriends,” she said. “It’s no different.”

Last month Kelly — dogged for decades by allegations including child pornography, sexual abuse and false imprisonment — pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse against four victims, three of them minors. That case is not linked to women he currently lives with.

In 2017 a BuzzFeed report alleged the musician had kept women as virtual sex slaves at his Chicago and Atlanta homes.

Clary and Savage dubbed accusations against Kelly money-making schemes.

But Clary’s parents released a statement shortly after the interview aired saying their daughter “is presently suffering from years of mental abuse and manipulation by R. Kelly.”

“R. Kelly is a desperate liar and serial abuser of young girls who should die in prison,” said the statement tweeted by lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represents at least two of Kelly’s alleged victims.

“All of the victims and parents cannot be lying.”

CBS released the interview with the two women after airing an emotional sit-down with Kelly himself, his first public comments since the indictment against him.

“I didn’t do this stuff. This not me,” Kelly said, saying he was “fighting” for his life.

“Whether they’re old rumours, new rumours, future rumours, not true.”

Kelly — the star behind hits like “I Believe I Can Fly” — remains in custody in Chicago after failing to pay $161,000 in child support payments he owes to his former spouse and three children.

Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly also has previously accused the artist of domestic abuse.

(AFP)

Breaking: Appeal Court quashes disqualification of Taraba guber candidate

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Thursday upturned the disqualification of Sani Danladi, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in Taraba state.

It would be recalled that a Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo on Wednesday disqualified Danladi on charges of age falsification.

Details later

Drama as Fayemi embraces Fayose in public

Dr. Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti state and Ayodele Fayose, his predecessor, were the cynosure of eyes at a ceremony in honour of Afe Babalola, a revered lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Babalola was honoured with the 2018 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership at an event, which took place at Harbour Point, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Wednesday.

It was attended by dignitaries such as Yakubu Gowon, former head of state, Emeka Anyaoku, former secretary-general of Commonwealth, prominent traditional rulers and politicians.

Fayemi, who delivered a speech, was walking to his seat when Fayose stood to greet him. Responding, Fayemi threw his arms wide open as both men got locked in a warm embrace.

The governor had initially made veiled reference to Fayose, taunting the man he succeeded last year over his “stomach infrastructure” policy.

“I am immensely proud that baba ( Afe Babalola) is from Ekiti. You have restored our values for us. With you around, at least no one can accuse us of being the state of stomach infrastructure. They will definitely regard us as the fountain of knowledge,” he said.

But not minding the criticism, Fayose, who had in the past, attacked the incumbent governor, displayed a rare show of love.

Both men raised their hands in solidarity as sounds of clap and laughter erupted in the hall. The gesture was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the ceremony.

Fayemi defeated Kolapo Olusola, Fayose’s deputy, in the last gubernatorial election in the state.

Fayose had described his successor’s victory as pyrrhic, saying his party would work tirelessly until it gets justice.

“We will reclaim the stolen mandate in the court by the power of God. As for me, I am Peter Ayodele Fayose, I hold with my head high. I can never be suppressed. I don’t lose battles and I will not lose this. By the power of God, I will laugh last,” he had said.

The former governor put that aside momentarily at the programme in honour of Babalola.

How stranded Nigerian was sold for $30,000 in Russia

Two Nigerians have been arrested and charged with human trafficking after striking a deal to sell Blessing Obuson, a teenager from Edo state, for two million rubles (around $30,000).

According to her lawyer, the suspects agreed to sell off Obuson to a police officer who posed as a client.

Obuson, one of the Nigerians stranded in Russia after the World Cup, has also narrated how she was forced into prostitution.

An estimated 1,863 Nigerians who came to Russia last year for the FIFA World Cup are still on the loose in the country, more than two months after their Fan IDs expired.

Dozens of them, who were young women have been forced into prostitution by the traffickers who brought them into the country under the guise of being football fans.

According to a Reuters report, Obuson thought the World Cup would be an opportunity to find a job when she flew into Moscow on a fan ID in June. Instead, she found herself forced to work as a prostitute.

Fan IDs allowed visa-free entry to World Cup supporters with match tickets, but did not confer the right to work.

Despite that, Obuson, 19, said she had hoped to work as a shop assistant to provide for her two-year-old daughter and younger siblings back in Nigeria.

Instead, she said she was locked in a flat on the outskirts of Moscow and forced into sex work along with 11 other Nigerian women who were supervised by a madam, also from Nigeria.

“I cried really hard. But what choice did I have?” Obuson said after being freed by anti-slavery activists.

She said her madam had confiscated her passport and told her she’d only get it back once she’d worked off a fictional debt of $50,000.

Obuson told her story to a rare English-speaking client who got anti-slavery activists involved.

Her case is not isolated. Reuters met eight Nigerian women aged between 16 and 22 brought into Russia on fan IDs and forced into sex work. All said they had endured violence.

“They don’t give you food for days, they slap you, they beat you, they spit in your face… It’s like a cage,” said one 21-year old woman, who declined to be named.

In September, a Nigerian woman was killed by a man who refused to pay for sex, police said. The Nigerian embassy later identified her as 22-year old Alifat Momoh who had come to Russia from Nigeria with a fan ID.

Kenny Kehindo, who works with several Moscow NGOs to help sex trafficking victims, estimates that more than 2,000 Nigerian women were brought in on fan IDs.

“Fan ID is a very good thing, but in the hands of the human traffickers it’s just an instrument,” he said, calling for more cooperation between the authorities and anti-trafficking NGOs during major sporting events, including the 2022 Qatar World Cup where a fan ID system is also being considered.

Anti-slavery group Alternativa said its helpline had fielded calls from Nigerian women held in St Petersburg and other World Cup host cities.

While a prosecution has been launched in Obuson’s case, police have been unable to act against suspected traffickers in other cases due to a lack of evidence.

“A lot of girls are still out there,” said Obuson.

Last year, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the ministry of foreign affairs to bring back home the 230 stranded Nigerians in Russia after the World Cup.

A nursing mother and 154 out of the 230 were brought home through Ethiopian Airline flight number ET-ALP that arrived Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja in July.

MTN plans NSE listing before July as Nigeria revenue hits N965bn

MTN Group says it will list Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in the first half of 2019, after recording very positive trade numbers in 2018 fiscal year.

The telecommunication giant made this disclosure in a mailed statement on Thursday, as its results showed a total revenue of 37,971,000,000 South African rand (N965.3bn).

“MTN plans to list by introduction on The Nigerian Stock Exchange during the first half of 2019 and is looking to simplify the capital structure ahead of this listing,” MTN said.

“The Company’s listing on the Exchange will create a new telecoms asset class for investors and provide an opportunity for a wider group of Nigerians to participate in our investment story.”

“This will be achieved via a listing by introduction and will be followed by a public offer once market conditions are conducive. Over time, and subject to market conditions, we anticipate that the participation of Nigerians in the ownership of the business will increase from around 20% to 35%.”

MTN increased its mobile subscriber base in Nigeria by another six million people, bringing its tally to 58 million subscribers nationwide.

Ferdi Moolman CEO, MTN Nigeria said “In 2018 we rebuilt the base; adding another six million Nigerians to our network, giving a total of 58 million people access to worldwide communication services”.

“This growth was built on our sustained focus on customer centric delivery – ensuring that customers get much more value for their money.

“This included the deployment of proactive interventions to improve customer experience, together with the enhancement of network quality and coverage, and the optimization of our services portfolio.

“We also enabled an additional 8 million people to access the possibilities that the internet provides, bringing our total data subscriber base to 44 million, of which 18.7 million use more than five megabytes per month.

“We are now even better positioned to ensure that everyone can access the benefits of a modern connected life. We are excited to have been given the privilege to continue playing a role in facilitating this, and are grateful to our customers, our people, our partners and our regulator for making this possible.

“We understand how access to the opportunities enabled by the internet can open up new industries even in the remotest areas of our country.

“Thus, we will continue to focus on delivering social innovations like mobile electricity, financial services for all; and leveraging our technology as a vehicle to enable high-impact mobile solutions in education, health and agriculture in our communities – urban and rural.”

SNAPSHOT OF MTN NIGERIA RESULTS (2018)

  • Service revenue increased by 17.2%
  • Data revenue increased by 39.3%
  • Digital revenue decreased by 58.1%
  • Fintech revenue increased by 32.7%
  • EBITDA grew by 30.8% to NGN 453.1bn (excl CBN payment)
  • EBITDA margin increased by 4.5 pp to 43.6% (excl CBN payment)
  • Mobile subscribers increased by 6 million to 58 million

PDP still has to explain irresponsible expenditure, Buhari insists

President Muhammadu Buhari has told the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that it still owes Nigerians explanation on how it spent the huge resources that accrued to the country from oil sales between 1999 and 2014.

The president spoke while addressing the leadership of organised labour which came to felicitate with him on his electoral victory at state house, Abuja on Thursday.

Buhari said his government met a country with dilapidated infrastructure all round in 2015.

He also wondered what the previous ruling party did with the country’s earnings from oil, which reached a peak while in power for 16 years.

“PDP has not successfully explained to the country what they did with the money,” President Buhari said.

“There were no roads, no rail, no power. They said they spent $16 billion on power, but where is the power? The irresponsible expenditure of that period has not been explained, and Nigerians deserve an answer on that terrible mismanagement of the country.”

Buhari thanked the organised labour “for the support and patriotism you have shown during the presidential election, especially after the unexpected postponement.”

“You and your members stepped in to support willing Nigerians to exercise their civic and patriotic rights to vote. You intervened as patriots, and not for political, religious or tribal purposes. You simply did the right thing during a difficult period for many of us,” he added.

On the way forward for Nigeria, the president said his administration would continue pushing the “change agenda” and remain focused on our core pillars of security, economy, and fight against corruption.”

Buhari also called on the organised labour to work with his government to make the country peaceful, prosperous, and corruption free.

Dangote, Adenuga top Forbes’ list of 13 richest black people on earth

Aliko Dangote, billionaire businessman and Mike Adenuga, oil and telecoms mogul, have topped Forbes’s list of world’s black billionaires for the year 2019.

In the American business magazine’s 13 richest black people on earth list, which has four Nigerians on it, the president of Dangote Group clinched the first position with a fortune estimated at $10.9 billion.

According to Forbes, Dangote’s fortune was made from sugar, cement and flour production. He is also on the verge to launch a private oil refinery in Nigeria which will have a refining capacity of 6500,000 barrels a day and is expected to reduce the country’s dependence on oil imports.

In second place was Adenuga, founder of Globacom, a Nigerian mobile telephone outfit, with an estimated fortune of $9.1 billion.

Aside from being the founder and sole owner of Globacom, which has more than 40 million subscribers in Nigeria and neighboring African countries, Adenuga also built his fortune in oil. He owns Conoil, one of Nigeria’s first indigenous oil exploration companies in the early 90s.

Third on the list for Nigerians is Abdulsamad Rabiu, founder of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate with interests in sugar refining, cement production, real estate, steel, port concessions, manufacturing, oil gas and shipping. He is worth an estimated $1.6 billion.

Folorunsho Alakija, Nigeria’s first female billionaire and the founder of Famfa Oil, also made the list with an estimated fortune of $1.1 billion.

Below are names of the 13 richest black people on earth:

  1. Aliko Dangote – Nigerian ($10.9 billion)
  2. Mike Adenuga – Nigerian ($9.1 billion)
  3. Robert Smith – American ($5 billion)
  4. David Steward – American ($3 billion)
  5. Oprah Winfrey – American ($2.5 billion)
  6. Strive Masiyiwa – Zimbabwean ($2.4 billion)
  7. Isabel Dos Santos – Angolan ($2.3 billion)
  8. Patrice Motsepe – South African ($2.3 billion)
  9. Michael Jordan – American ($1.9 billion)
  10. Michael Lee-Chin – Canadian ($1.9 billion)
  11. Abdulsamad Rabiu – Nigerian ($1.6 billion)
  12. Folorunsho Alakija – Nigerian ($1.1 billion)
  13. Mohammed Ibrahim – Sudanese-British ($1.1 billion)

The list was extracted from Forbes’ list of the World’s Billionaires in 2019, which has 2,153 people.

Buratai vows tough action against election riggers

Ahead of the Saturday governorship and house of assembly elections, Tukur Buratai, the chief of army staff, says intelligence gathered has shown that politicians have plans to disrupt the process.

He made this known on Wednesday during a meeting with principal staff officers and commanders of the Nigerian army.

While noting the cases of violence outbreak in some parts during the presidential election, the army chief said his men would be going harder this time on politicians who attempt to interfere with the process.

“Recent security threat assessment and analysis of the coming elections showed that politicians have made plans to use all means available to truncate the peaceful conduct of the elections,” he said.

“There are indications of their intent to take advantage of and to use the farmers/herders crisis, armed political thugs and ethnic militias to perpetrate acts of violence including bombings. Some of them also intend to infiltrate domestic staff of political opponents, employ mercenaries to carry out acts of assassinations, use the social media for smear campaigns, hate speeches and spread fake news in a bid to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the elections. We must not allow them to succeed.

“Let me reiterate that the NA will enforce all guidelines in support of the Nigeria Police Force to ensure the peaceful conduct of the elections in line with its constitutional roles.  I therefore want to remind us all not to rest on our oars. We shall not allow those who are determined to   undermine   our   electoral   process   to succeed.   These forthcoming gubernatorial and state assembly elections are very crucial. These are elections that touch on the interest of the people at the grassroots and could likely be volatile in nature.

“During the course of the recently concluded elections, troops of the Nigerian Army were able to make arrests of persons who perpetrated acts of electoral offences. These suspects have been handed over to the police for prosecution.  I want to state, and categorically warn that the Nigerian Army will not tolerate any acts that will undermine national security. This time around we shall be tough on those who plan to rig or disrupt the electoral process.”

In February, President Muhammadu Buhari had given a directive for security operatives to deal ruthlessly with ballot box snatchers. And while the opposition condemned this, the army had said it would go with the president’s order.

Atiku asks voters to choose PDP … Gbenga Daniel endorses APC in Ogun

Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former director-general of the Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign organisation, has endorsed Dapo Abiodun, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun state, for Saturday’s election.

In a statement on Thursday, Daniel directed his supporters to vote for Abiodun.

He gave the directive shortly after Atiku appealed to Nigerians to vote en masse for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the governorship and national assembly elections.

Atiku made the appeal in a video widely circulated on social media.

Atiku Abubakar

@atiku

I express my profound gratitude for the massive votes you gave my party – the PDP, during the Presidential and National elections. As we move to the governorship & state elections on March 9, I urge you to come out in larger numbers to peacefully vote for PDP, from top to bottom.

3,956 people are talking about this

But Daniel who is not on the same page with Buruji Kashamu, governorship candidate of the PDP, has pitched his tent with Abiodun.

Daniel had backed Ladi Adebutu who lost the PDP gubernatorial ticket to Kashamu.

“My Dear compatriots, and members of Remo Resource & R Centre: you would have noticed my studied silence in our local politics in recent times, he said in a statement.

“I have busied myself with national politics having served the state for 8 years. I have also been very busy supporting the ambition of the son of our great philantropist in Remoland to become the next governor of our dear state.

“You however would have become aware of the court decision yesterday which did not favour him. Going forward, I have directed all our structures statewide to cast all their votes on Saturday for Prince Dapo Abiodun, another bona fide Remo son despite current party differences.

“I therefore enjoin all to please go and cast your vote on Saturday for Dapo Abiodun in the overall interest of our people. With best regards.”

The Ogun election will end as one of the most interesting, given the fact that the two major parties are fraught with internal crisis.

Adekunle Akinlade, preferred candidate of Ibikunle Amosun, the incumbent governor, had defected to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) after losing the APC ticket.

Amosun, who won the Ogun central senatorial election under APC, has mobilised his structure for Akinlade.

CDD: INEC has to make itself clear on cancellation of elections

The Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make itself clear on cancellation of elections.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, Idayat Hassan, director of CDD, cited instances of lack of clarity in the national assembly and presidential elections.

She said the coalition of result was “very very sluggish” and in several instances, calculations were wrong with mutilations and various writings on the results sheets.

Hassan urged the commission to tackle logistics challenges that affected the February 23 polls, including delays resulting from late arrival of election materials and personnel as well as the inability of officials to move election results from polling units to the Collation centres due to lack of transportation.

She asked INEC to ensure that election officials use smart card readers nationwide, describing the none use of card readers as a violation of INEC’s guidelines.

“Smart card readers must be made compulsory nationwide rather than in some parts of the country and zero votes must be recorded for all polling units where the SCRs are not used,” Hassan said.

“The patchy use of SCRs further cause voting delays that could affect the smooth conduct of the elections.

“Despite the assurances by the election management body that it was ready to conduct the election on February 23, there were significant delays in the opening of polling units and insufficient materials across the country when voting did get underway on that day.

“More so, Election Day was characterized by localized incidents of voter intimidation, ballot box snatching/destruction and general voter apathy as the national voter turn out rate dipped from 43.7% in 2015 to just 35.6%.”

The centre also condemned the “do-or-die attitude” of the political class who sometimes use thugs to disrupt voting, and asked political parties to educate their agents and supporters on the need to adhere to the code of conduct for smooth conduct of polls and collation of results.